Dogs of the British Isles linoprint

Dogs of the British Isles linoprint

For this print I decided to combine my love of dogs and vintage maps by creating a print that celebrates dogs breeds that have originated or developed in the British Isles. I love the decorative flourishes and ornamental details that cartographers of the 18th and 19th centuries used when creating maps and I wanted to use these vintage elements in this print. Examples of these are the decorative cartouche around the title of the map, the compass and galleons and the classical ornamental scale in the bottom left corner.

 

Ornamental title map cartouche

Ornamental map title cartouche

Decorative map scale with banner, dog and globe

Decorative map scale with banner, dog and globe

From nobility and royalty to the working class, farmers and fishermen, the people of the British Isles were prolific and dedicated dog breeders to whom we can attribute a disproportionate number of breeds that we know and love today.  Depending on the information source, it is estimated that around 25% of all recognised dog breeds in the world originated in the British Isles … around some 90 breeds, some of which are now under threat of extinction. This map features 54 breeds, both those that have originated in the British Isles and some breeds, that despite more ancient origins outside these islands, were developed into the breed standard we know today by the people of the British Isles.

I started by sketching the breeds…

Pen and ink sketches of dogs

Once I was happy with the whole design, I had to transfer it onto the lino (in reverse) so I could carve it out. I tried several transfer methods (the most successful of which was the xylene transfer method from a laser printed copy of the design) but the large size of the print and the fine detail got the better of me, so I decided to get it screen printed onto the lino.

Carving the design into Lino to create a printing plate was a real challenge, not just because of the large size of the print, but also due to the finely detailed dogs and carving lettering only a few millimetres high. Carving the plate took well over 60 hours, using my extra strong glasses and a magnifying glass!  The more time I invested in the carving the plate, the greater the stakes – as one slip of the gouge can be almost impossible to rectify.

Partially carved lino plate

Partially carved lino plate

Printmaker Debbie Kendall carving a lino plate

I painted the lino red before transferring the design so it was clear where I had carved

Lino carved plate

The carved lino plate

Once the plate was ready, I made some test prints on different Japanese papers. I was looking to see how the paper performed for several criteria, such as ease and even-ness of ink transfer (especially in the solid black areas) and the weight, colour and texture of the paper. I chose the Awagami Bunkoshi paper, a medium weight paper with a natural creamy off white colour.

The main challenge in printing the plate without a press, apart from its large size (my press is not large enough to take the plate), was the difficulty getting a good even print in the solid black areas (the sea) whilst retaining sharp detail in the dogs and lettering.

Debbie Kendall printmaker

This depended on perfecting the amount of ink on the plate in the different areas and varying the printing pressure using various hand tools (a combination of a Japanese ball bearing baren, convex glass lens and my trusty porcelain door knob). Each print took well over an hour to print by hand and the combination of maintaining sufficient pressure to transfer ink evenly, with repetitive circular motions using the hand tools over that time meant that it was also physically very demanding. As I was aiming for an edition of 60 prints, I decided that if I was to maintain my sanity and avoid repetitive strain injury, I needed to find a press large enough to accommodate the plate and paper.

lizzie printing 2A

Whilst removing a good deal of the physical strain of printing, a press still requires a good deal of (for want of a better word) “fiddling about” to get a good print. The strong even pressure offered by a press is great for helping to achieve solid areas of flat colour (like the black sea in this print) but such pressure over the more delicate areas, such as the dogs and lettering, can cause smudging and blurring. This is where hand printing was beneficial as it was possible to press harder on the areas of solid colour and go lighter on the dogs and lettering. However after several days around 40 prints of the planned edition of 60 had been printed and I plan to hand print the balance over the coming weeks.

 

Framed Dogs of the British Isles print

Framed print 60 x 80 cms

When I first had the idea for this print, I had doubts about the feasibility of carving the dogs and letters at such a small scale. I debated about whether to create it as a screen print or even as Giclee print of my original illustration, but lino is “my thing” and I wanted to push myself  and at least try to see if it was possible for me to carve and print successfully at this size and level of detail. I found it was best not to look to far ahead in the process and just concentrate on the immediate task ahead, carving one letter and one dog at a time! My perseverance and patience were certainly tested in the creation of this print but as President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort”

Happy printing everyone!

Find out more on The Enlightened Hound’s website

 

 

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Land Rover Reduction Linoprint

Being a lover of all things Land Rover and all things Dog I wanted to make a print that celebrated them both. It’s called “Land Rover Life”.

Land Rover Life 11 colour reduction linoprint by Debbie Kendall

I set my self a challenge to create the print as an 11 colour reduction linoprint. If you are a printmaker you will know what I mean by “challenge” (enough said) but if you are not well versed in printmaking techniques (or even if you are) and would like to find out more about how I made this print, then read on…

What is a reduction linoprint?

When creating a print of more than one colour, a printmaker may choose to carve a separate block (or plate)  for each colour or alternatively, they can use the same block for all the colours. This latter method is the reduction (or suicide) method. It is often referred to as the suicide method, not because it is suicidally tricky (though that is true) but because in using the same plate for all the colours, the plate is systematically cut away in increasing amounts as the print progresses and by the end of the print, it is completely destroyed, therefore there is no going back. It also means that no more prints can be made from that block, so once the initial run of prints are editioned, that’s all there will ever be.

Why Land Rovers?

The Land Rover idea was triggered by the announcement in 2016, that the last Land Rover Defender would be rolling off the production line, marking the end of almost 70 years of production of Land Rovers, from the original Series 1 to the Defender – over two million vehicles.

There are very few vehicles that have stood such a test of time and even fewer that have transcended fashion and trends to become an iconic part of British national culture. What I particularly love about the Land Rover is its appeal and relevance to all levels of society and its ability to be right at home wherever it is, be it a farmer’s field, an army base, a mountain pass, a country estate, a suburban town or a royal palace.

The Land Rover’s heritage of exploration and adventure and its “go anywhere, do anything” potential is an irresistible combination, evoking a sense of freedom and derring do. Its tough, rugged, no-nonsense character, combined with its no-frills, meccano-esque nuts and bolts and chunky silhouette -like a child’s drawing, yet perfectly proportioned – is both timeless and distinctive.

Inspired by vintage travel posters of the 1920s and 30s, I wanted to create a print not just about the Land Rover and what it can do, but also a print that depicts what the Land Rover stands for and what it means to its many different owners.

Those of you who know my work, know all about my love of dogs. To me, dogs and Land Rovers are inseparable and it’s no co-incidence that people who own both dogs and Land Rovers often speak of their vehicle and their animals in the same affectionate tones, both being faithful, hard working, characterful, individual and will go anywhere with you!

You may also know that hand lettering is also my “thing” and is a constant feature of my work. The phrase “Live A Life Less Ordinary” stirred up, for me, the best feelings about owning a Land Rover. If you look closely at the finished print, you’ll see that the letters are drawn so they look like they are ‘screwed’ into the print.

How did I get started?

So, the first thing to do was to design the print which involved many pleasant (and some frustrating) hours of research, inspiration and sketching.

land rover sketches

Then the final design had to be transferred on the lino plate – in reverse

land rover linoprint plate

I mix all my colours up by hand using oil based traditional inks, so I spent lots of time perfecting the recipe for the perfect Land Rover green…

land rover print colours

So what could possibly go wrong?

I am trying to get an edition of 50 prints in total. Allowing for errors and time for the plate to build up a nice even layer of ink, I prepare 58 pieces of paper for prints. I must print the colour on all 58 prints before I can move on to the next colour. If I make mistake at any stage I cannot go back and print more, because after that particular colour has been printed, I carve away more of the block for the next colour and it is irreversibly altered.

So here’s an interesting fact… In the making of this print I had to ink the block and put down the paper on the inked block to take a print a total of 580 times (58 prints, each with 10 passes of colour – there were 11 colours in total but I managed to print colours 5 and 6 together)! Each colour took several days of printing and was very physically demanding, because in order to transfer the ink evenly to the paper each print was hand burnished (rubbed by hand on the back of the paper) with various tools for a considerable length of time!

Finally, each time I put the paper down on the inked block to take a print  I had to make sure it was put down in exactly the same place… even a shift of less than half a millimetre would mean that the colours would not be mis-registered and the print would not have good, sharp definition. (Sometimes this can be done deliberately with great effect, but I wanted perfect registration for this print)! To achieve this I built a ‘jig’ and ‘tympan’ based on old printing machines which would (hopefully) hold the block and the paper in the same place each time. Printmakers expect to lose a few prints to mis-registration, errant ink smudges, too much ink, too little ink and a whole host of other possible, unforseen catastrophes! To top it all, one slip of the tool when carving the block could mean the whole edition is ruined! Now you know why it’s called a suicide print! I ended up with an edition of 47 for this print. Not bad!

Here’s how I did it…

The first step to start printing is to carve away all the areas on the plate that I want to remain white and then ink up the plate in the first colour I want to print – a pale blue.

In all the following pictures of the process the carved, inked plate is on the left and the resulting print from that plate is on the right.

stage one printing

Stage 2 is to carve away all the areas I want to remain pale blue (that I have just printed) and to ink up the plate in the next colour – a pale taupe/brown…

printing of second colour

Stage 3 is to carve away all the areas to remain pale taupe/brown and ink up the plate with the third colour – light grey…

printing of 3rd colour

Stage 4 is to carve away all the areas to remain light grey and ink up the plate with the fourth colour – mid brown…

printing of 4th colour

Stage 5 is to carve away all the areas to remain mid-brown and ink up the plate with the fifth and sixth colours – mid grey and orange (I can print both of these together as they are in separate areas of the print and do not touch) …

printing of 5th and 6th colours

Stage 6 is to carve away all the areas to remain mid-grey and orange and ink up the plate with the seventh colour – light olive green…

printing of colour 7

Stage 7 is to carve away all the areas to remain light olive green and ink up the plate with the eighth colour – Land Rover green…

printing colour 8

Stage 8 is to carve away all the areas to remain Land Rover green and ink up the plate with the ninth colour – dark green…

printing colour 9 - dark green

Stage 9 is to carve away all the areas to remain dark green and ink up the plate with the tenth colour – dark grey…

printing colour 10 - dark grey

Stage 10 -the final stage –  is to carve away all the areas to remain dark grey and ink up the plate with the eleventh colour – almost black…

… to reveal the final print

printing last colour - black

I hope you found this insight into the process of making a reduction linoprint useful and informative. If you’d like to find out more about me, discover more of my work or buy a print, go to my website

A Dog is the Best Medicine Linoprint/Collage

People sometimes ask me which of my prints is my favourite and I have to answer ‘The Dog is the Best Medicine’. It came about after I discovered a stack of yellowed vintage medicine bottle labels at a fair and I offered the stallholder a price for whole lot, not knowing what on earth I was going to do with them.

I spend days sorting them, seperating them out and even resorted to baking stuck together piles of them in a low oven to try and unstick them! I then placed each type in different cello bag (yes, anal, I know) and then I waited for inspiration to strike.

ephemera

I can’t remember if it was a revelation or some kind of thought process but “A Dog is the Best Medicine” was born.

I thought I’d share with you how the prints are created. Each one is an individual collage of old medicine bottle labels. I don’t use the same layout of labels for all the prints… I just randomly pick them up and stick them on (although I have to watch I don’t stick myself into a corner, in which no label will fit).

medicine bottle label collage old pharmacy bottle labels

vintage bottle labels collage

I leave the completed collages to dry under some heavy books. Then the words and dog are printed individually onto each one. I carved the words and dog into lino to use as a plate on my etching press.

I mix the inks up by hand and roll them onto the lino plate which is then passed through my press with the collage in a kind of sandwich.

lino print dog lino printing plate

printmaking ink a dog is the best medicine print

The prints are then left to dry, signed and numbered. I hope to have enough labels to make around 100 prints but I’m not sure they’re going to stretch that far.

a dog is the best medicine print

framed dog print

I know that some have been bought as gifts for dog-loving vets and doctors. What a lovely idea!

Sniff one out while you can at The Enlightened Hound

A Dog is the Best Medicine

Ta Da! Here is my latest piece of work…

A dog is the best medicine linoprint and collage by debbie kendall

Ask any dog lover and they will tell you how good their dog makes them feel. Whether we are feeling sad, grumpy, irritable or under the weather, somehow dogs have the ability to make us feel better about life.

My dog, Figo, can immediately smooth over any family rift — at the first sign of raised voices he comes rushing over wagging his tail and never fails to get us all smiling again.
I created this print in honour of a dog’s gift to make us feel better, whatever our situation.

But there is something that makes this print really unique — it is printed onto an ephemera collage of vintage, original pharmacy labels from old medicine bottles. These are very collectable and have a wonderful array of old typefaces, both scripts and block letters. They are the lovely, aged, mellow colour of old parchment.

dog inspired linoprint detail on collage by debbie kendall

This is not a pre-printed digitally reproduced background – I make a unique, individual collage of actual, original labels for each print, so each one is different.There will only be 100 of these prints and each are individually signed and numbered on the reverse.

medicine bottle label collage by debbie kendall

The size of the paper (the labels go to the edge) is approx. 300 x 300 mm (11 3/4”) square.I have chosen to make frames for these prints out of reclaimed wood, which echoes the vintage appeal of the labels.

The frames are made from what ever wood I can source and each frame has its own pattern of knots, grain, dinks, scratches, nail heads, rusty staples, wonky edges and aged patina.

The size of the framed print is around 43 cms (17”) square.

reclaimed wood picture frame by debbie kendall  recalimed cedar wood picture frame by debbie kendall
Linoprint and collage in handmade frame by the enlightened hound
Prints come ready to hang and are fitted with crystal clear acrylic glass.
Available unframed or framed from the Enlightened Hound’s Website

Linocut Dogs & Ephemera Collage

Just thought I’d give you a heads up on my latest print making experiments…

I have been playing with some linocut dogs:

linocut printed dogs by debbie kendall of the enlightened hound

It took quite a lot of experimentation to get the fur looking right!

And also I have been making some collages out of my collection of old pharmacy medicine bottle labels…

Pharmacy Label Collage by Debbie Kendall

I love the old handwriting script typefaces – so elegant and a nice contrast to the simple block capitals that are also popular on these old labels.

I will be bringing these two elements together in my next piece of work with some more typography!

 

Hand made picture frames

I have been looking for ages to find some frames to fit my prints that are something different from the ‘off the shelf’ ready made frames and mouldings available. There are lots of vintage frames around in antique shops and charity shops but it is rare to find one of the correct proportions for my prints and cutting them down is not an easy task. After a long and fruitless search I have decided to make my own!

I was looking for a frame that has a rustic, reclaimed & hand painted look so my furniture painting skills have been put to good use – along with some newly honed woodworking skills!

Achieving good consistent mitre joints is challenging so I did invest in a specialist mitre saw (Nobex Proman 110)…

mitre-saw

… and mitre guillotine (Orteguil ORC80) on which the blades – or knives- would slice through your hand like butter!

mitre-guillotine

I am now producing some vintage style hand-made and hand-painted frames.

rustic handmade picture frames by debbie kendall

They are painted in chalky matt paint. The narrow inner moulding is in Old White and the main frame can be painted in a choice of neutral colours including taupe, grey and cream. The outer moulding face is left as a natural waxed wood finish for contrast.

vintage style hand made picture frames by debbie kendall

I am happy with the way my Canine Wisdom prints look in them. The vintage style and distressed hand painted finish complements the nostalgic feel of the prints perfectly.

canine wisdom print in handmade frame by the enlightened hound

The prints are now available to buy ready-framed through my website – something I have been asked for several times!

How to sharpen linocut tools with Arkansas stones

linocut tools & arkansas stones

Traditional Arkansas sharpening stones are natural quarried stones. They are graded by hardness (density) rather than grit and are finer than manmade sharpening stones. They are known as oilstones because you need to use oil when sharpening tools with them. The oil is called honing oil and is usually a light mineral or petroleum based oil. Cooking oil is not recommended. The oil acts as a lubricant and suspends the steel shavings, preventing clogging. I use Wahl oil which is a lubricating and cleaning oil for my dog clippers.

My Arkansas stones have different shaped edges which are useful for the internal edges of the U and V gouges. I use Swiss made Pfeil woodworkers gouges to cut my lino plates.

SHARPENING V GOUGES
Put a couple of drops of honing oil on the oilstone and smear it over the surface with a finger. You just need a thin film of oil between the blade of the gouge and the stone.
V-gouges have 3 areas that need sharpening – the 2 slanted edges and the central gouge, where the slanted sides join.
sharpening a v gouge
Place one of the slanted sides of the V gouge so it lies flat on the stone. Now lift the handle of the gouge up so the angle between the blade and the stone is about 22 degrees. You are aiming to keep the bevelled part of the blade, at the very tip, flat on the stone.
Now gently push the blade along the stone as if you are shaving a very fine slice off the top of the stone. Repeat several times, then turn the V gouge over to sharpen the other side in the same way. A burr will develop in the centre of the gouge where the 2 slanted sides join.
v gouge sharpening

removing the burr in the centre of the v gouge

Now choose the best size v-shaped edge of the Arkansas stone (to match the size of the V gouge) and, with a dab of oil, run the stone’s edge inside the gouge a few times to remove the burr.
SHARPENING U GOUGES
Place the U gouge blade on the oiled stone at a similar angle (22 degrees) as above. Again the aim is to keep the bevelled tip of the blade flat against the stone.
You now have to move the blade of the U gouge in 2 different ways at the same time!
sharpening a u gouge

sharpening a U gouge

First, move the blade of the U gouge up and down the stone in a circular movement (red arrow on picture). If this was all you did then only a small part of the U shaped blade would stay in contact with the stone and get sharpened.

In order to sharpen the whole U shaped profile of the blade you also need to slowly rock the blade from side to side (blue arrows on picture), at the same time as you are going up and down the stone in a circular motion. It sounds like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, once you give it a go! Keep at this until the blade is nice and sharp then use the curved edge of the stone to remove any burrs on the inside edge of the gouge.

sharpening a u shaped gouge

removing the burrs on the inside edge

Finally clean your stones with a little more oil by rubbing it in a circular motion with a rag across the surface of the stone. The small metal particles need to be removed from the stone or else they will clog it up. Then wipe with some clean rag or kitchen paper. Rinse the sone under running water, then dry thoroughly.

I hope this helps keep your tools nice and sharp. Happy cutting.